In the year 1800, the population of the region which makes up the present-day Netherlands was approximately two million people. The beginning of the 19th century was a tumultuous time in Dutch history, as the region had recently been annexed by Revolutionary France; however the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was eventually established in 1815 (which also included present-day Belgium and Luxembourg) and a period of economic growth, modernization and high quality of life followed. In spite of this economic prosperity, religious tensions between the predominantly Catholic south and Protestant north led to a split in the kingdom in 1839, where it was eventually partitioned into Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, along borders very similar to today's. Rapid modernization and liberalization continued throughout the 19th century, and in 1900 the population of the Netherlands was over five million people.
Early 20th century
The Netherlands was free to continue economic expansion, both in the metropole and in its colonies, uninterrupted for much of the first half of the 20th century (partly facilitated by its neutrality in the First World War). This resulted in a steady rise in population, which doubled to ten million within half a century. Population growth would even continue throughout the Second World War, as the Netherlands would be spared from much of the casualty-heavy conflicts seen in neighboring countries; however, most estimates concur that approximately 210,000 Dutch people died as a result of the war, half of which were Jews murdered in the Holocaust. The war also saw the end of Dutch colonization in the East Indies, as Japan annexed the region of present-day Indonesia in 1942; although the Dutch tried to re-colonize the region after the war, Indonesia became an officially recognized independent nation in 1949.
Population growth in the Netherlands would continue largely uninterrupted in the post-war years, until the 1970s, when it began to slow as Western Europe experienced periods of recession and high unemployment. Improvements in contraceptives and education also saw birth rates fall at their fastest ever rates in the 1970s. Following the recovery of the Dutch economy in the 1990s, population growth would resume once more, continuing steadily into the 21th century. In 2020, the Netherlands is estimated to have a population of just over 17 million people, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. For its size, the Netherlands has one of the strongest economies globally, and often ranks among the highest in terms of development, freedom and quality of life.
Population of the Netherlands from 1800 to 2020
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Gapminder, & UN DESA. (August 31, 2019). Population of the Netherlands from 1800 to 2020 (in millions) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved April 18, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/1016675/total-population-netherlands-1816-2020/
Gapminder, und UN DESA. "Population of the Netherlands from 1800 to 2020 (in millions)." Chart. August 31, 2019. Statista. Accessed April 18, 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1016675/total-population-netherlands-1816-2020/
Gapminder, UN DESA. (2019). Population of the Netherlands from 1800 to 2020 (in millions). Statista. Statista Inc.. Accessed: April 18, 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1016675/total-population-netherlands-1816-2020/
Gapminder, and UN DESA. "Population of The Netherlands from 1800 to 2020 (in Millions)." Statista, Statista Inc., 31 Aug 2019, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1016675/total-population-netherlands-1816-2020/
Gapminder & UN DESA, Population of the Netherlands from 1800 to 2020 (in millions) Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/1016675/total-population-netherlands-1816-2020/ (last visited April 18, 2021)